As a creative person, story writer and producer I can smell a great story miles away. My ears are quick to pick up on a good story. Here we were in the office working and in comes a colleague. She had with her a copy of an admission letter to do her masters at the university. I was so excited for her because I had watched her grow from being a receptionist at the corporation to become an On-Air personality. I just had to get her to tell her story. I promise you, It is indeed that kind of story that says – “YOU CAN MAKE IT, REGARDLESS OF YOUR BACKGROUND OR STRUGGLES”!
My name is Lilian Onianwa(Née Ukandu)
My story is long I’ll try as much as I can to shorten it
I finished secondary school at age16. I had everything planned out that is, get admission into the university to study medicine; finish up; get a masters degree and get married. Things didn’t work out as I planned.
I wrote the JAMB examination and got admission into Ebonyi State University to study Microbiology but only spent 2 years in the course and couldn’t continue. My father was in far away South Africa and somehow we were not getting any money from him because my stepmom was keeping it all for herself.
I had to drop out and moved to my grandmother’s house in Ibadan, Southwest Nigeria. I didn’t get tired of looking for admission because for me getting admission into school meant living…”How can I not go to school”?
I wrote many exams and got admitted into various tertiary institutions-OAU Ife, FUTA, and Wesley University Ondo. Each time the admission came through for me there would be no money to pay school fees. But I couldn’t just stop and fold my arms…NO. I knew that I didn’t have money to pay school fees but I just won’t stop! The joy in my heart each time I get these admission letters is immeasurable. I was hopeful and each time I’ll say to myself “at least it’s just money that is the remaining ingredient in my educational pursuit”. ‘I just wanted to go to school and I didn’t have a job either to support myself. I was living on a monthly allowance that I got from my Uncle.
In 2011, I finally got a job as a receptionist in a media organization, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) with my Senior Secondary School Certificate and was earning 17,300 at the time barely enough to fend for myself. Life as a receptionist in FRCN was a different ball game. Half the time, people looked down on us a lot because to them “she is just a receptionist “. In fact, I was the staff with the lowest grade level and I was constantly bullied and degraded for that. There were times I would cry and cry but I kept telling myself that one day ‘I will bag a Ph.D.”.
Finally, I got an admission into the University of Ibadan to study Psychology in 2012. It was a Part-time course and I had to combine working at my job and studies. It was challenging especially when I became pregnant with my daughter. At times, I will be on duty and I’ll have to leave the office to go and write my exams and come back to work after the day’s exams…but I kept pushing.
In 2013, I wrote a letter to the management for Redeployment to the programmes department and with the help of Mr. Gabriel Onafurume, the Deputy Director Programmes (DDP) at the time I was considered for it. I got redeployed to the Library because that was the only unit in the department that can take a low-level staff like me. I was a Level 4 officer. However, I knew I could do more so I joined a production team and began to feature on a programme called ‘Campus Beat’. This gave me an exposure to the art of presentation and programme production and it worked in my favor.
I have had 3 promotion interviews since I started working with FRCN. Each time I go before the interview panel and I’m asked to bring my credentials, and as I hand them my O’levels result, I die 30 times over. To the glory of God in the last promotion interview which held in January 2019, I went there with my B.Sc certificate! I graduated in 2018 with a 2.2. I was 0.1 shy of a 2.1.
After graduation, I wanted more, I had to go to the next phase and the Post Graduate school, the University of Ibadan will never take me with my Pass in Mathematics(which was graciously waved during my undergraduate level). So I went back to Secondary school and wrote NECO(July 2018) exams again after 14 years. Fortunately, I made all my subjects in that one sitting and now I’m on my way to studying a masters degree in Personality and Social Psychology. and I’m not stopping there as I intend to eventually bag a Ph.D.
What motivates me: Success
I want to be a very successful woman. I have a beautiful daughter and someday I want her to read the Newspapers and see something about her mother. There was no way that was going to happen if I didn’t go to school. No matter how wealthy I am as a ‘business’ woman with no degree I will never be fulfilled if I didn’t get my degrees.
All the while, I was alive but I wasn’t living. Getting a degree gave me a new life..now I’m fulfilled. I feel like I can tackle anything life throws at me now with confidence. But then some people may say ‘it’s just a degree’; to me, it’s not just a degree, it’s the key to a new life, a new ME and a breath of fresh air.
- I want to become a Criminal Psychologist and I’m already working on that.
- I hope to own a Television show that will focus on criminals especially the ones serving time for murder/homicide, investigation of the 24 hours leading up to when the crime was committed, what triggered that action and rehabilitation for the prisoners during and after prison. And this dream is very VALID!
You can Make it ; Yes you Can!
Adebisi Adetunji (C) Broadcast Journalist, Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – firstname.lastname@example.org